16 states sue Trump over emergency wall declaration

The plaintiffs claim that the president violated the Constitution

A coalition of sixteen US states filed a lawsuit against President Donald Trump's administration over his decision to declare a national emergency in order to use emergency funds to spend billions of dollars on his border wall with Mexico. First announced by Attorney General of California Xavier Becerra, the suit alleges that the president's order violates the Constitution as it is contrary to the Presentment Clause that outlines legislative procedures and the Appropriations Clause, which defines Congress as the final arbiter of public funds.

The complaint also claims that that the Department of Homeland Security had violated the National Environmental Policy Act by failing to evaluate the environmental impact of the wall in California and New Mexico.

"President Trump treats the rule of law with utter contempt. He knows there is no border crisis, he knows his emergency declaration is unwarranted," Becerra said, adding that his state and the others had legal standing since the administration risked losing money intended for military projects, disaster assistance, counter-drug efforts and other purposes with their actions.

The latest developments are part of a constitutional confrontation that Trump set off on 15 February when he declared he would spend billions of dollars more on the border, despite the fact that the Congress had already granted him $1.375bn appropriation for fencing along the southern border.

Now joining California in challenging the president’s decision are the attorneys general of Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, and Virginia.

Meanwhile, the Congress is on its own separate track to challenge the president’s declaration. The House of Representatives, now controlled by Democrats, may take a two-prong approach when it returns from a recess. One would be to bring a lawsuit of its own. Lawmakers could also vote to override the declaration that an emergency exists, but it is doubtful that Congress has the votes to override Mr. Trump’s certain veto, leaving the courts a more likely venue.

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